Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Deku & Bakugo: Rising Review


It’s time to take a look at a quick manga prequel to the recent My Hero Academia movie. It’s two chapters long and each one’s about 15 pages so it’s like 1 monthly chapter. It’s a fun little story about Deku & Bakugo going after their first ever villain. It underscores why you should be able to use your powers if you need too. The series isn’t totally explicit on how this works but I assume you are allowed to use your abilities in self defense. If that’s the case then we’re good although I am glad to see Bakugo just charge in anyway.

The basic premise is that Bakugo and the bullies are walking around town and having a good time. Deku shows up reading one of his superhero magazines so they pick on him for a bit. Bakugo is surprisingly the nicest one of the group as he gives Deku the magazine back. That’s when a cloud villain shows up and tries to flee the scene. Bakugo realizes that this is a good chance for him to finally be a hero and get into UA so he gives chase. Deku is worried about Bakugo because he has figured out that there is more to the villain than the cloud abilities. The only trouble is, how can he gives Bakugo a heads up about this?

Since this is a prequel and we know that the two still don’t get along at the start of the series this one naturally ends with the rift continuing to grow. Bakugo is pretty upset that Deku was able to figure things out so quickly while Deku is impressed that Bakugo was ultimately able to figure it out as well. It’s a fun dynamic between them and one that has been solid since the start of the show. You can definitely point out that their dynamic isn’t nearly as friendly or healthy as other rivals but the sheet animosity from Bakugo to Deku makes it pretty unique.

As far as one shot stories go this one was also pretty good. We got a little fight scene and the art was pretty solid. The plot twist about the guy’s powers was pretty neat although I do feel like they should have figured it out a little sooner. The sheer difference in element is pretty big so it’s something that you should be able to determine both visually or physically. That’s just how it goes I though I suppose. They were still kids when this happened. We also got to see a pro show up which was pretty neat. We don’t usually get to see a lot of the more obscure pros engage in a fight so when that happens it’s pretty neat.

This one incorporates the villains from the movie for a quick page at the end but this definitely isn’t their story. It’s really about connecting more details from Deku and Bakugo’s past. It accomplishes this goal rather well. The artist does a good job of making this feel like it could have been a chapter from the main series and the writing is on point. You’ll definitely read through this adventure in a breeze.

Overall, Deku & Bakugo Rising is definitely worth checking out. If you’re able to then you should read it before watching the movie. It’s always nice to have a little more context on the manga. Hopefully Viz puts this story at the back of an upcoming My Hero volume or something. I always think it’s a shame to lose these stories to the remnants of time. Every one shot should get put into physical form at some point. I’m definitely up for more My Hero Stories. I’ll be starting the My Hero Team Ups soon so that’ll be a good way to get some more My Hero action. There’s certainly a lot of different team combinations the series can try out.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Update

Tron: Legacy Update


I now own Tron:Legacy! It’s definitely one of the most underrated films out there. I remember it being good enough to hold its own in the same conversation as the original Transformers G1 film and Mortal Kombat. The visuals are still better than a lot of the stuff you see nowadays. You can bet a retro review will be appearing after I give it a re-watch.

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Dynasty Warriors 6 Review


It’s time to look at the next instalment in the Dynasty Warriors series. It’s definitely been pretty fun playing through all of the installments lately. From Dynasty Warriors 2 to now the series has definitely changed quite a bit. This one does feel a bit more modern than the last few even if the gap isn’t particularly wide. The story is more or less the same as the last ones so you’re really in this for the hype gameplay. Does it deliver?

When you boot the game up you’ll have a lot of different modes to choose from but I usually like to dive straight into Musou. This is effectively the game’s story mode after all so you definitely can’t go wrong there. The story consists of 6 levels where you have to defeat scores of enemies in order to proceed. It’s also a rather difficult mode and I highly recommend going into Free Mode and leveling up a bit if you want to really be ready for action here. Otherwise you can definitely expect to take quite a few losses in the meantime. The enemies have no mercy so if they catch you that’s it.

Often times you also have to account for the fact that you’re not the only guy on the squad. It doesn’t matter if you beat 700 enemies if your captain’s about to go down. One key thing to remember is that if he goes down you go down. There is really no I in team here because at the end of the day it’s all about the camp. If your camp is captured before the enemy one then that’s going to be game over. Some levels have different win conditions so I highly recommend checking into them as soon as you start each level. Knowing what you have to do in order to win and what you should do to make sure you don’t lose are absolutely critical.

The gameplay is the same as always so you should be able to pick it up pretty quickly. It’s a 3D Beat Em Up where you have to take down all of the enemies in your way until you get to the enemy stronghold. You have your standard attacks as well as power moves and super attacks. I recommend keeping your super attack as a combo breaker of sorts. The enemies deal a ton of damage so if they start to hit you I’d say to very quickly use your super. It’ll also give you an opportunity to run.

One thing about the game is that it’s very easy to drop you guard. You just took down 300 enemies in a row so why should this one be any different right? Well, the trickiest thing about the enemies is that all it takes is one solid combo to take you down for the count. Especially a boss. Part of why I lost in one level was because I underestimated the fact that the boss could take 75% of my HP with a single combo. It’s also pretty demoralizing to lose in this game because of how long the levels are. You instinctively know that you just lost a ton or progress.

It’s why I recommend playing the levels as intended. It’s real tempting to bypass everyone and run straight to the stronghold. In most levels it doesn’t even stop you from doing that. The problem is that it takes several minutes to run all that way and then you have around 10 or more bosses running at you at once. If you mess up your combo or leave an opening even for a second then you’ll be going down. You can’t really afford to do something like this until you’re at a very high level.

That’s where Free Mode comes in. Additionally this game has a more robust level system than most of the other games. You can actually learn new skills as you level up and upgrade your stats through a skill tree. I definitely was not expecting anything quite like that here so it was a pretty welcome surprise. I can’t say enough how much I like level ups. Having trouble on a level? Just go back and beat some more enemies. The gameplay is fun as I mentioned so it’s not like this is a problem. Additionally I like when you can see the fruits of your labor and the level ups make a good difference here. It’s like night and day. I actually took down 1200 enemies in one of the levels after grinding up my level so that felt pretty good.

In terms of graphics the game holds up well. The more realistic setting does stifle the game in terms of how out there the graphics can get but we get some nice action scenes. The intro cinematic was a little shorter than usual though or it felt that way. The soundtrack is pretty nice. I always like the opening main menu riff that tends to play. It’s always a rock theme in this series which starts you off right.

The length of the game is pretty reasonable as well. The 6 level campaign should last you a few hours I’d say and then you can multiply that by all of the characters who have a campaign. Additionally you can try to complete the campaign on more difficult settings as you go through the game. Then you’ve got the whole level up system and a ton of bonus content so there’s no end to it here. This game will last you for as long as you want to enjoy it.

Overall, Dynasty Warriors 6 doesn’t hold back on any of its punches. It throws you right into the action and it’s all handled pretty well. You really feel like you’re on some kind of grand adventure the whole time. I would like them to take more liberties with the story at some point but as long as the gameplay is this good I don’t see Dynast Warriors ever faltering. The fundamentals are just too good and there’s a lot of content for the price you pay. It’s a steal!

Overall 7/10

3 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Million Dollar Baby Review


It’s time for a film about boxing. There have been quite a few good ones over the years like Rocky and Creed. Those did a good job of delivering some pretty hype fights with epic storylines. Both of them will not be forgotten anytime soon. This one started out like it was going to be another one of the greats. Unfortunately it flew off the rails towards the end and ruined any potential it might have had. The first 2/3 of the film is quite good but the final part definitely destroys the film. That’s why they say a good ending is important. You can start off quite amazingly but if you trip over the end that’s what you will be remembered for.

The movie starts with Frankie winning more fights as the manager of a top ranked fighter Willy. Unfortunately his boxer eventually leaves him because Frankie never let him compete in the title matches. Frankie is now without a boxer. Meanwhile a girl named Maggie has started showing up as the gym and is determined to make Frankie her manager. He’s quite reluctant as he’s never coached a girl before and doesn’t want to start now. Still, she gradually weakens him and he starts to warm up to the idea. Still, a part of him is worried that this is a bad idea and he doesn’t want to have any more regrets.

There aren’t many big characters in this film but they all had to deal with a lot of issues throughout the film. Frankie has his own reasons for why he never lets his boxers attempt the big fight. His instincts are usually pretty good and it’s something that can come back to bite you. At the same time, it seems like this isn’t quite the right profession for him then. In boxing people are always going to get hurt so if you’re not prepared for that then you’re going to be in for a rough time. Frankie definitely plays the role of the angry coach who’s always got something stern to say. Deep down he’s a nice guy but it’s hard to get to that level. He makes for a good character though and a solid lead focus.

Then you’ve got his friend Eddie who does a lot of the work around the gym. He’s a lot quicker to give advice. Usually the other characters aren’t quite ready to hear what he has to say but he does his best. He has one especially good scene where he takes on one of the newer characters. He does pretty well and shows that he can still fight. He’s easily the nicest character in the film and I’d say that he steals the show. We all need an ally like Eddie. Someone who will have your back through the tough times no matter what.

Finally you have Maggie who really wants to be the world’s best boxer. She’s had a pretty tough life so far as her family turned out to be pretty toxic after her father died and she doesn’t really have anyone to support her. It’s been tough to make ends meet and boxing may be her only shot at a new life. She’s quite determined and that allows her to climb the ranks quite fast. Her technique is quite solid and she showed that she could hang with the best. Maggie takes all of the situations quite well and has some true grit.

While the film is focusing on the boxing it can be quite good. You really get to see proper footwork during the battles as well as the training you have to go through in order to get to the top. The characters are pretty solid and the pacing is good. The film would have been really solid if it had just ended with a slightly different outcome to the final fight or just cutting off at that point. Continuing further was ultimately a mistake.

I can’t really go much further into the ending because of course it’s a huge spoiler to the rest of the film. Needless to say, the movie decides to go for a lot of grit and dark themes towards the end. It suddenly stops being about boxing and becomes more of a tragedy drama where things continue to get worse and worse. The film doesn’t really leave any hope left and you’re just waiting for it to end at this point. The final act drags on for quite a long time. The film also randomly adds a backstory involving a dog dying and someone who was disabled getting beat up. It’s like the film suddenly changed gears and decided it wanted to be as mean spirited as possible.

Even the plot about Maggie’s family doesn’t feel truly necessary. I think the references from early on would have sufficed there rather than getting them involved. Even threatening Frankie at the hospital was a rather odd scene. I’m assuming after that Maggie told Frankie to leave for his own safety or at least I hope that was the case since it would seem out of character otherwise. Really what it boils down to is that the final act of the movie just wasn’t any fun at all. It crossed the line of getting a little too grim dark in what otherwise would have been a pretty solid adventure.

Overall, The Million Dollar Baby is a film that could not keep up its momentum. It built up a pretty solid plot with some good fight scenes and ultimately threw it all away for shock value. I’d definitely recommend watching something like Rocky or Creed instead. Those films manage to finish the ride and deliver with great endings to each of the installments. A good ending applies to just about every kind of game, sport, or entertainment. Finishing is the true skill you need to have in order to make it to the next level. Hopefully if this film was to ever get a remake or a sequel someday it would do a better job of finishing the fight. Until then this will definitely be known as the weakest boxing film I’ve seen.

Overall 3/10

7 Star Movies, Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Hunt for Red October Review


I remember seeing this film a very long time ago. It’s a pretty fun thriller featuring the classic match up of USA vs Russia. It makes for a pretty solid film and definitely an exciting one from start to finish. There’s a good amount of action here and the writing is solid. I’m also always up for thrillers revolving around the government. I like to see the tech in action and the more “Professional” approach rather than the main characters fumbling around. This is a movie that you should definitely check out as everything about it has aged quite well.

The film starts off by introducing us to Captain Ramius. He commands the Red October, a powerful Russian sub that is armed to the teeth with nukes. What makes it particularly dangerous is the fact that it is nearly impossible to detect by normal means. The new camouflage tech allows it to appear anywhere without warning. Ramius murders the Russian soldier in charge of watching over him. He has gone rogue and is approaching the United States. What are his intentions? The Russians aim to destroy him before he can do anything crazy. Meanwhile Jack figures that Ramius is trying to defect to the U.S. but it is a pretty dangerous gamble. If he’s wrong, then it could very well be the end of the country in an instant. There would be nothing they could do at that point since the enemy would be too close.

As you can probably guess there is quite a lot of strategy going into all of this. The heroes have to consider a lot of different angles here. They’re definitely reluctant to believe in the defecting angle and you can’t really blame them. It is a really risky endeavor and as much as Jack says he met Ramius once that doesn’t really mean anything. You can’t possibly grow to understand someone upon meeting them once. Everyone has many faces that they use in society and the man that Jack met was simply one face. His true intentions would still be a complete mystery.

While Jack’s approach may be a bit naive, he is certainly a qualified agent who came up with a solid theory he could back. Jack did a lot of work in finding out about this from the start. He may not be a big fighter, but he does whatever he needs to in order to claim victory. He’s a solid lead even if he’s not particularly exceptional. Not standing out probably helps in espionage anyway. Ramius is the main villain here and makes for a good counter. He’s clearly quite experienced in commanding a fleet and knows tactics well. Even when the rest of the crew are panicking Ramius always keeps his cool. He’s not the kind of guy to panic at every little thing the way that the rest do. He’s quite interesting.

Part of the film’s strength is in how smooth the writing is. It’s very good and keeps you interested throughout. There are a lot of moving pieces here and despite both countries being quite hostile with each other they have to keep up a pretense of kinship among them. That leads to a lot of layered conversations. In particular I liked the U.S. Embassy representative as he did a good job of keeping up the pretense while delivering some passive aggressive statements. He did a good job of not giving up any ground or giving up intel.

Aside from Jack’s deduction we also had another U.S. sub in the area which looked good. One of the workers there was able to accurately find a way of locating the Russian sub which was impressive. If Jack had not shown up at least that means the U.S. would have been able to take out the Russian sub before it made it to America. Of course there would have been quite a great deal more casualties if that had occurred so it wouldn’t have been the ideal outcome. I’m just glad the whole thing didn’t hinge on him stepping in. Either way America would not have gone down without a fight.

The final fight does come out of nowhere a bit but I was glad that the film wanted to give us a quick action scene. I’m always up for some action so this was a pretty good way to close out the film. It may not have been a very long fight but it was a way to give Jack a quick moment to shine and also delivers on making things pretty exciting. The film really made no mistakes and had a very solid opening act, middle, and climax.

Overall, The Hunt for Red October is definitely a really solid thriller. I’m always up for films about the tensions between U.S. and Russia. It makes for pretty intense story lines and I can definitely go for more thrillers about subs. I’m not a big fan of the water in general as a backdrop, but being underneath the water is a very different matter. It reminds me of the classic Battleship type game. There are only so many options you can use while in a sub so the thriller parts aren’t so much about the fights as the setups to them. You need to have good writing for that and this film certainly delivers. It’s a long film but one that doesn’t drag on.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

The Promised Neverland Review


It’s time to look at a manga that ended pretty recently. The Promised Neverland is a very different Shonen Jump title. It’s a lot darker than most and is going for a full horror vibe. Don’t expect to find big super forms or hyper fights running around in this title. It’s more of a slow burner with the heroes trying to escape the demons, at least for most of the series. The series peaked rather early on with the final arcs getting to be a bit much with the plot armor. It’s an interesting series but one that I’m not really a fan of.

The plot starts by introducing us to Emma and the other kids who currently live at an orphanage. They have to take many tests each year which gives them various scores. The 3 smartest kids by far are Emma, Norman, and Ray. They are geniuses at this point. Unfortunately their lives are turned upside down when they find out that one of the kids has been murdered. It turns out that their home is actually a breeding ground for demons and they murder all of the kids. Emma now needs to find a way to save everyone but that will naturally be a difficult task. Can she accomplish this mission along with Norman and Ray?

You can already see how this series will be pretty dark. The heroes literally live on a farm where they are the meals. You also have to live with the knowledge that there are other farms out there with kids who won’t be quite as fortunate as the main characters. We get some pretty interesting mental battles between Norman and Ray during this arc which are typically the highlight. They’re definitely the smartest characters in the series after all. Norman is definitely a bit smarter than Ray though and tends to come out on top.

The second arc changes things up a bit as they finally escape the place. They manage to make it to another farm where Lord Bayon has trapped a bunch of other kids. The rules of this farm are different as it is a pure survival game. Everyone already knows that they are the prey in this case. Every day a few more kids are lost. Emma decides to help their commanders Oliver and Lucas take down the demons. The heroes are through with running and this time they’ll be taking the fight to the villains. Can mere human kids really take these guys down though?

We get quite a bit of solid action here and the heroes learn how to fight back against the demons. It’s definitely the best arc in the series. Granted, this is also where the power levels initially start to get a bit wonky. So the demons have a weakpoint that can be shot. It’s good since that lets the heroes do something but half the time they only win because the demons barely move. There’s no way they could hope to defeat these demons in a straight fight even with a weakpoint. The battle with Leuvis was great for sure, but it’s one that he definitely should have won. That was one reason why it was fun to throw the adults in here, you can definitely see them doing a bit better.

I’d say the third arc is probably protecting the base but it’s almost more of a transition arc. I’d say this could basically lead us to the final arc. We’re introduced to the concept of metahumans who have been developed to stop the demons. The problem is that they are still outnumbered. If they can murder the Demon Queen then this long fight will finally be over. The problem is that Emma doesn’t really want to murder the demons. She wants a world of peace and her inaction threatens to jeopardize the heroes. Will they have to take her down to ensure a better tomorrow?

This final arc definitely added quite a bit of new elements to the series. One of those things was an alien/god who would show up and it all got very meta. It’s an interesting angle even if it doesn’t feel like it’s from the series. A positive element was the metahumans. These guys have actual powers in the form of strength and speed so now this was a group I could see actually taking down the demons. I also liked that Norman’s group was taking a more active approach. They were shutting down farms left and right in what was a very effective campaign during the war between humans and demons. They were really doing just fine on their own so the whole time it felt like they absolutely did not need the main group. If anything it felt like Emma and Ray were holding them back. If they had stuck to just the metahumans running around and fighting I think it would have helped with the power levels.

Lets talk about Emma. She’s a character who changes quite a lot as the series goes on. Unlike the other kids she is not willing to make any sacrifices. She wants to save everyone without a doubt. It’s a noble cause even if the others give her grief about it. She’s a little more unhinged than most leads and the manga does a good job of showing this with the various zoom ins. The art really knows how to get very dynamic. That said, her resolve starts to get a little shaky in the final arc. Suddenly she doesn’t want to destroy any of the demons either? At some points it’s really a decision of whether you save the kids or the demons but you couldn’t possibly do both. This request is a bit more unreasonable on her part. I can’t fault it morally because it’s good to be able to save everyone but it does ruin all of the plans. Without plot armor her decisions would have definitely destroyed the rest of the group.

It just seems like a very different perspective on her part. The demons ruined everything for the heroes and they all couldn’t stand them. A big part of what changed Emma were the two nice demons who helped her out but even so, it was pretty surprising to see. Her final decision was also pretty selfless although it definitely did totally go against what everyone else would have wanted. A selfish choice to help out others, that’s one I can agree with. So Emma’s a good character, but a little too extreme at times. Of course all of the main characters tend to be extreme in some way or another.

Norman gets a really big role in the series. At his core he’s more merciless like Ray but he always tries to help Emma out as much as he can. He’s the brains of the group and does a good job of making sure Emma succeeds in whatever she wants to do. He looks pretty great throughout the series. If anything, if Emma hadn’t shown up I feel like he probably had everything under control. I can also see why his subordinates were pretty upset at the change of character. Then we have Ray who is the best member of the 3 if you ask me. He’s definitely got solid ambition. He’s easily the most rational of the 3 even if Norman is the smartest. Ray always goes for the highest chance of success even if it means sacrificing some people. Ray still does his best to be heroic though and Emma helps change him on that. He has no problems eliminating the demons though.

Then you have Isabella who is the first big villain we see. After all, she’s looking after the children and getting them set up to be eaten. She’s rotten to the core. So you can probably guess how her character arc will go during the series and all I can say is that it isn’t really earned. She did break Emma’s bone intentionally and that’s not even counting the people she actively delivered. While she can make for a good villain, it’s hard to see her as a sympathetic one. Then we have Krone who shows up early in the series. She’s pretty intimidating and also has some good tactics up her sleeve. She can’t compete with Isabella in terms of wit but does a good job regardless.

After the main 3 kids, most of the others weren’t particularly solid at least from the first house. Don and Gilda always felt like they were just getting in the way. They would ignore the wise advice from the main 3 to go ahead and do their own thing. Just because it works out doesn’t mean it was the right move. They’re always a few steps behind. Phil is another kid who gets a roll although he’s one of the youngest so he’s not exactly out in the field. Mostly his character was fun out of universe as there were many theories about him. None of them ever actually happened though so his role is extremely small. It makes sense though since having him fight would be odd.

Mujika is one of the two special demons that meets up with the main characters. She’s not much of a fighter as she is typically known as more of an intelligent demon. She tries to stay ahead of things in that sense so that she won’t even need to fight with the others. Her partner Sonju is the main fighter. Sonju is able to take down several demons at once. The guy’s pretty shady and doesn’t mind murdering humans either. He comes awful close to taking down the kids at one point. He’s not as bad as the rest though so that’s definitely a start. I thought he was one of the more interesting demons and a solid rival to have around. It would have been cool if he could have gotten a few more fights.

Then you have Leuvis who is a solid villain. he likes to have a good fight and I always like that about a villain. He’s willing to let the kids get prepared or whatever they need to make things interesting. It does make for a lot of plot armor on the heroes’ side but that’s to be expected. Regardless it was probably one of the better fights in the series. That arc also introduced us to some new kids and even two adult characters who would go on to be some of the best characters in the series. It reminds me that if the series was based around the adults it probably would have been quite a bit better.

First off is Yugo who initially doesn’t like the kids but gradually gets used to working with them. While he eventually mellows out I can’t say that he starts as anything less than a full villain. He actively did try to murder one of them after all. His fight scenes with Lucas against the government were quite solid. One thing’s for sure, Yugo was never the kind of guy to go down swinging. He went full blast from the jump. Lucas is just as solid if not more so. He never gave up the fight and kept on going the whole way. He’s not quite as skilled as Yugo, but it’s close and he definitely is very good at planning.

Then we have Oliver who is probably the most experienced member of the new kids. He’s a solid fighter and is also a bit older than the others which helps him stay ready for what’s about to come. He’s not on the same level as the metahumans who pop up but that’s okay. He’s strong enough. For the metahumans who appear we’ve got 5 main ones. First up is Vincent who is all about following the plans. He does whatever Norman says. After all, it tends to work out. He’s not really a fighter but he makes sure that all of the characters are in the right spot. I suppose it makes him a little redundant since Norman is smarter but it’s always good to have a backup.

Cislo is pretty fun. There’s not a whole lot to him but he loves murdering demons just like the others. He’s pretty strong and a capable guy to have around. Same for Barbara only she is even more zealous about this. She just loves destroying demons to the point where she eats them. I thought she was definitely the best member of the group. She was always right there on the front lines and could put up a great fight. Finally there’s Zazie who is also strong although he’s a bit more on the mindless side. The powers came at a huge price for him which was pretty unfortunate. He definitely made sure to come through when it counted though.

Ayshe had a sad backstory where she was raised by wolves and definitely does not like Norman or the metahumans. She doesn’t really care for demons either though so she doesn’t really have any friends. She’s a solid fighter though. Ayshe probably gets a smaller role than most of the other characters but the scenes she is in are quite solid. Finally we have the Queen who is of course the strongest demon. She gets a few super forms and looks good. Unfortunately she is way too powerful for this series though. The instant she appears you know that there is no way the kids will be able to do much of anything here. There is no realistic way they could hope to take her down so the final battle gets a little interesting. Either way I did like her as a final boss though. She did a good job of leading the demons even if she should have stepped in sooner to crush the humans.

The art for the series is pretty good. There’s quite a lot of detail in all of the shots. As mentioned earlier, the author did an especially good job of drawing Emma. For some reason Emma became less and less sinister as the series went on though. I don’t think she got any “evil” shots after arc 2. It seems like the author maybe had a different plan for her but ultimately decided to make her more of a hero in the end. I liked the more morally dubious Emma who was willing to blow everyone up to make a point. It did make her look a bit sketchy but that was the point. I can’t be the only one who feels like the Emma in the final arc is a completely different character right? Emma not dishing out veiled threats to people just doesn’t feel right.

Neverland can get pretty dark though so definitely keep that in mind if you start the series. Not only is there a considerable bodycount here but a lot of the people who die are kids. That’s ultimately what holds this series back. When people die it’s pretty fine if they’re main combatants. Context is key of course, but in general having a kid die is a pretty tricky element. Especially a series based around that whole fact. The whole farming thing is about as grim as it gets. You’re unlikely to find another series quite so dark. Attack on Titan’s up there though. It’s in a different way but I would say that it’s pretty comparable.

The series definitely stays pretty interesting throughout. There’s quite a lot of suspense built into it with twists at every corner. As with most mysteries you’ll have to see what you preferred, the build up to it or the payoff. A lot of times the best part of a mystery is the opening act because it’s fun to not know anything. I wouldn’t say any of the twists are bad though. I would have gone in a very different direction with the ending though and added 1 more arc but I suppose the series definitely didn’t want to drag itself out. At least like this people can point to it as a series that’s complete so you can now marathon it from start to finish.

Overall, The Promised Neverland delivers on being a very different kind of manga title. It’ll probably go down as the definitive horror title in Shonen Jump. That said, as horror is already not my genre it’s not surprising that it lagged behind the other manga titles. I’d be down for a sequel series that’s more of a sci-fi thriller with everyone trying to move forward in the new world. I think that could be pretty interesting. That said it’s not like the franchise needs to continue. The ending ties everything up. There are open plots that could be continued but if they don’t you can easily assume what happened on your own. So if you like horror titles then check this one out, otherwise I’d say to go and check out another modern Shonen Jump title like One Piece.

Overall 3/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Seven Deadly Sins Review


It’s time to look at a manga that at this point finished quite a while ago. It’s a very long series though so the review would be pretty long too so I held off on it for a bit. This is one of those titles like Fairy Tail that is quite tragic. It has a terrific climax and a lot of hype moments. Unfortunately it is held back by fanservice issues which prevented it from being the next big thing. It’s a manga I will have fond memories of though even if it could live up to its full potential.

The series starts off with Elizabeth searching for help. The knights have become corrupt and the only ones she can turn to are the Seven Deadly Sins. Despite the name they used to be Britain’s finest warriors. Unfortunately the group has been split apart and they are all wanted for capital crimes. She runs into Meliodas who now runs a tavern. He agrees to help her and while the guy is incredibly sketchy, Elizabeth figures she will need his help. The first arc is mainly about gathering all 7 of the members to stop the Knights and bring Britain to peace once more. This won’t be an easy task, but if anyone can pull it off, it is Meliodas and his merry crew.

The second main arc involves the return of the Ten Commandments. These guys are some of the deadliest villains to ever walk the planet. They also seem to have ties to Meliodas. The Sins may be strong, but all of them are weaker than the weakest Commandment. It adds a nice sense of danger to the whole mix since the heroes all have to get massively stronger. It’s cool because the series started on the premise that the heroes were the strongest people around and now you’re throwing in villains who are way more powerful than them. Needless to say, the series’ power levels start to get pretty insane the more the series goes on.

Finally we get involved with the holy war. The Angels have returned to slay the Demons. The only problem is that they appear to be just as evil and corrupt as the monsters they fight. This forces Meliodas and the others to wonder who to ally with. Meliodas also has to come to terms with his demonic past as everyone is trying to control him. The Demon King also shows up for a pretty intense final battle that also became a bit of a running gag among fans. Let me tell you, reading this weekly was a blast because of that. The comments are just so much fun and they just never miss a beat.

So lets rewind a bit and talk about the series as a whole. For starters, the art is excellent. It’s one of the clearest manga I’ve read and I would consider it to be top tier in that respect. You can really follow along with the fight scenes and the character designs are on point as well. This makes for a pretty great mix at all times. Solid artwork is half the battle after all and it helps you get across the epic scenes a lot better than it possibly could if the art wasn’t all that good. The series is also quite long with a good amount of replay value and plots to keep you interested.

The character cast is quite strong with a lot of solid villains in this case. I’ll talk about the characters more in depth later on. The fight scenes are particularly intense and the series is known for them. My favorite fight in the series was Meliodas vs the 10 Commandments. There’s one fight early on where he takes the whole group for a spin which was pretty neat. He also came so close to winning that it cemented him as being the fiercest fighter in the group. Unlike many titles where they try to keep the main characters balanced at first, Meliodas was always head and shoulders above the other members of the team. He consistently shows why he is the leader and it all makes sense.

Now where the series goes wrong is the fanservice. It’s unfortunate because it mainly stops after Arc 1. It’s something that would occur less and less frequently as the series went on. Depending on the scale of it the score wouldn’t have been totally crippled but as with violence, fanservice has tiers to it. Quick camera angles and unfortunate tripping is one thing, but Meliodas tends to get pretty physical with Elizabeth which is the real problem here. It’s played off as a comedy plot which I could never believe the series would even attempt to do. She never gives him any kind of consent and always gets embarrassed by his advances. He pays absolutely no mind to this. It would be a far darker plot if taken seriously and we learn some twists that are supposed to make this better. Basically they are destined to be together and Meliodas has been together with many different versions of her. So he’s skipping the formalities since he considers them to be a couple already.

That’s just not how it works though and those scenes are really tough to get past. Eventually they do get together but by then the damage to the series is done. Ban’s romance with Elaine is also pretty bad. The series tries to make it more wholesome by the end but it just doesn’t work. I’ll take that over the Meliodas stuff though. So regardless, that’s what holds the series back. The series is long and the plot doesn’t occur all that often but I still cannot overlook it. It’s something that the series chose to do and now it must live with the score.

The series does a good job of fleshing out the world and the characters within it though. We learn a lot about Britain and it’s fun how the series uses actual characters from the legends like King Arthur and such. It sets up a sequel series pretty well since we should be getting pretty close to the knights of the roundtable now. The series also had a pretty good job messing with the readers during the ending. It pretended to be ending and then threw in a few extra fights for good measure. Part of why it worked so well is because now there was no way to know when it would end. If anything I was expecting the Light god to show up but sadly she never did. Now there’s a character who has been getting a lot of hype but has yet to really do anything yet. I expect her to get a big role in the sequel to make up for this.

Seven Deadly Sins also keeps up the intensity with each volume. There’s never really a dull moment. I’d say it rivals Fairy Tail with how enjoyable each volume can be. It’s certainly at a higher level than Toriko for example although that series may still have the best climax. It’s tough because most SJ titles like to end with a huge climax. It makes sense because that’s a good way to ensure that the journey was worth it. You didn’t read all those volumes for nothing. A series should always have a very climactic finale and that’s exactly what this series did.

Ok, so lets look at the characters. First up is Meliodas who is the leader of the group. He’s one of those guys who is so powerful that he has a hard time taking anything seriously. At times this can end up being pretty risky for him because he can lose before he has a chance to go all out. As a hero he’s only okay. His whole plot with Elizabeth holds him back and he can be pretty meant to Hawks the whole time. I actually liked him best when he was in his dark mode. Not the part where he was being mind controlled, but dark of his own control. The scene of him walking into the base and taking down both Estarossa and Zeldris was masterful. Again, Seven Deadly Sins really knows how to pile on the hype and really take everything to the next level. You’re guaranteed to see some big stuff in each adventure.

Then you have Diane who is unfortunately known as the weakest member of the Sins. Technically Gowther would be far weaker physically but she has a number of hax at the ready. Diane is a pure physical fighter. She can manipulate the Earth which helps her evade attacks as well as amp up her abilities. She’s a bit of a tragic character as she likes Meliodas but doesn’t stand a chance from the start. She’s a fun fighter to have on the group though. I feel like she should have gotten another powerup though. I think it would have helped to balance things out quite a bit.

Next up is Ban who serves the role as the rival in this one. He isn’t nearly as solid as most rivals though. What holds him back is that he can be a little too crazy the whole time. He’s always trying to murder Meliodas and doesn’t even seem heroic the way the others are. His whole regeneration thing is pretty cool though and I’ll miss that one. If anything he feels a little weaker when he doesn’t use that ability towards the end of the series even though he is technically more powerful. Sometimes you really just need to try and stick with your classic abilities to really stay at your best.

King isn’t much better and now you can see why I consider the villains to be the main strength of the cast. King’s true form is pretty bad so he usually uses a made up one. I like his fighting style though as he zips around at super speed and his projectiles definitely mean business. It’s hard to get past his defenses at all. He gets a lot of development but for the most part I couldn’t take his character too seriously. His final form is pretty neat though and was definitely a solid upgrade for the character.

Then there is Gowther who has a complicated backstory. There are a lot of twists and turns related to her character. You can also throw some betrayal in there as well. She is okay but half the time she ends up making things a lot tougher for the heroes. She rarely seems to contribute quite as much in a battle sense and I ended up growing tired of her pretty quick. If you want a solid character who’s unpredictable, that’s Merlin’s job. Now she is a great member of the team. Her abilities are basically absolute and she has a plan for everything. Next to Meliodas she probably is the strongest member of the group. Her barriers are incredibly durable and she appears to have a spell for every possible contingency. As a result you just can’t catch her off guard. The ending to her arc feels a bit forced but overall she was a fun character. I dare say that she ended out as one of the best heroes.

Finally there is Escanor who is the final Deadly Sin. His character is a bit like Hulk and Bruce Banner. By night he is a very meek guy who can’t fight for beans. He’s as scrawny as they come and will run from a fight. During the day he becomes more of a Superman type persona with absolute confidence. The brighter the sun, the stronger he gets. At his best he was even able to give Meliodas a good fight. Escanor is definitely a very fun character. His character’s end was also pretty forced considering that the heroes were absolutely wrecking the villain before he decided to use a forbidden move. Still, he does like to show off so this was his chance to outshine everyone once more. He always brought the hype with him and his fight with Estarossa was definitely a blast.

Elizabeth is the main heroine of the series and definitely gets to appear quite a lot. She doesn’t really tend to fight for most of the series although towards the end she got a new title that was meant to evoke fear into everyone. For the most part nobody took it very seriously since even after all of that she didn’t do much but it was still a cool thought. I do like her angel mode as she does get a big power boost from that. It’s also good to see her being more assertive since prior to getting her memories back I always found her to be way too passive. She also shouldn’t have put up with Meliodas’ antics.

Hawks is the main comic relief character of the series and I’d say that he does pretty good in that role. He knows how to help run a tavern quite well and does help out on occasion. He never really gets any respect but deep down they’re all friends. That said, Hawks is only good in those short doses. As a main character he just can’t hold his own. Not the way that Arthur could. King Arthur is one of those characters who you would expect to look amazing here but surprisingly he doesn’t do a great deal. He finally starts to unlock more of his power at the very end of the series but it’s more of a tease than anything. That said, he quickly became one of my favorite characters in the series. He’s certainly my favorite hero. The guy tries really hard and is always earnest in his attempts to learn more. I fully expect he will continue to improve.

Dreyfus is one of the original villains and I remember him being pretty fun. It can be easy to mix him and Hendrickson up a bit though. Ultimately I preferred Dreyfus as he seemed to have more willpower to me and was also more powerful. Hendrickson tended to get in the way and was a virtual hostage at times. That really doesn’t help his case much at all. Gilthunder was another early villain and part of why I remember him so well is the famous lightning throw scene. Meliodas was able to catch a throw that went across whole towns. So even though Gilthunder was taken to school there it was a pretty hype scene for sure. Guila was also a fun villain. I feel like she ultimately didn’t really live up to her own hype, but it was nice that she got some closure to her story and even had a bit of a redemption arc going for her.

Chandler and Cusack were pretty powerful demons which makes sense since they were the mentors of Zelris and Meliodas. I remember being surprised when they showed up since it was pretty last second but right away they showed why they were to be feared. They aren’t really meant to be very well liked villains but I liked their designs and they were pretty loyal to their masters. Chandler could be a bit shady since he wanted to murder Elizabeth but at least he was rooting on Meliodas to take down Zeldris. It’s also a bit funny there since their power levels apparently even surpassed that of those two.

The Demon King is the big villain of the series as you would expect. He steals a whole lot of bodies and fights the heroes in a variety of different ways. Never have I seen a main villain get quite so mocked chapter after chapter. It is definitely a very different approach much like the series as a whole. Typically you would expect the big boss to be cleaning shop and the heroes just barely manage to defeat him after a lot of friendship speeches and stuff like that. Not so with this fight as the heroes were completely wrecking him from the very beginning. If anything they weren’t even taking him seriously as they chatted while beating him up. The Demon King begged for his life on multiple occasions and people just lost respect for the guy. I still like him though. He may not have been supremely powerful, but at least he talked tough and was pretty manipulative. You can’t get much better than that.

Derieri has a pretty cool power. Every hit increases the gravity against you and it stacks as well. That makes for a pretty dangerous combo. She reminded me a bit of Caulifla. She certainly enjoys a good battle. Derieri may not be the strongest member of the 7, but I found her to be one of the most enjoyable ones. Typically she would teem up with Monspeet who had some pretty good abilities involving changing places. Honestly he was doing very well in his fight. Derieri ended up holding him back to an extent there but it was a worthy effort. He also seemed to not be quite as evil as the rest and was willing to live a quiet life away from all the violence. He didn’t quite manage to get that wish though.

Drole is another villain who was in a partnership. He tended to work pretty well with Gloxina. They didn’t really get as much character development as the other members although they got to be in the flashback arc which helped. They weren’t bad. In general I wouldn’t say that any member of the 10 Commandments were bad, but these two were less memorable. Galand was one of the best members though. For starters, he had a great design. He was also the first member to attack the heroes so we really got to see what he could do. He reminded me a bit of Berserker from Fate Zero only this guy talked a lot more. Unfortunately this did mean he would end up being the weakest member of the group but you can’t forget his entrance.

Estarossa gets a massive role. It’s hard to forget him taking down Meliodas in one hit. That’s definitely an intense way to make a debut in a title like this. He’s easily one of the most powerful villains and he gets several super forms. He has some twists involving Mael of the Archangels as well which was pretty interesting. I liked Estarossa for a while but once he became obsessed with Elizabeth he did drop down quite a bit. Meanwhile Mael was reasonably fun although he definitely didn’t seem very heroic. Not very surprising considering the Arch Angels were so extreme though.

Then we’ve got Zeldris who is one of my favorite characters in the series. his wind abilities are quite impressive as they were able to keep the whole cast at bay. While he isn’t as strong as Meliodas, he does keep their battles close and does keep improving on his own terms. He is on the side of the villains, but at least he has a good reason for doing so. He wants to bring Gelda back to life and since the heroes won’t help with this he was forced to turn back to the villains. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to bring her back even if it means stopping the heroes. I always like a character motivation like that and Zeldris was just a lot of fun.

Finally we have Ludociel who is the leader of the Angel unit. He’s a pretty powerful guy but also a very corrupt one who isn’t above sacrificing a bunch of humans to get his way. He’s really not the kind of guy that you want to have on your squad. He may get you the win but it’ll come at a tremendous cost. After a while, the cost for victory is too high and it’s simply not worth it. I did like having another faction though. I’m always a fan of having more than 2 groups because it makes for some pretty exciting battles.

Overall, Seven Deadly Sins definitely had a lot of adventures in it which is why this review was so long. It’s a series that you will definitely get quite invested in as you read through it. Without the whole Meliodas stuff this would be an easy 8. Unfortunately it is present. If you think you can get past that whole plot then I’d definitely recommend this series. It’s got a lot of action and hype scenes so there’s definitely no reason to skip out on it. Each arc really starts off with a bang and the art is just so high quality. It’ll also help you be prepared for the sequel which should come out at some point. Once it does I’m definitely expecting big things. If you aren’t able to get past the iffy stuff, then I’d recommend checking out Black Clover instead as a really solid action series with a lot of moving pieces.

Overall 4/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Sword Art Online Progressive Review


It’s time to take a look at one of the more well known Sword Art Online spinoffs. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Progressive over the years and how it brought the series back to its peak. Being back in Aincrad from Arc 1 was definitely pretty cool since I did think that those had the best stories. Unfortunately the manga takes the easy out of adding in a bunch of fanservice during the second half of the series which does ultimately hold this title back. It’s a shame since it had started out pretty well. Apparently the manga adds quite a bit and changes the story/personalities as well so it’ll be interesting to see how the novels stack up. That said, if you’re a mega SAO fan then you’ll probably still want to check this one out.

Mainly this series is adapting Arc 1 all over again but doing it very slowly. The castle has 100 floors and the only way to beat the game is to clear them all. Naturally in the main series they weren’t quite able to go through all of the floors so the goal of this manga is to show them to us one by one. As a result, after the 7 volumes of this series the heroes are still only up to volume 3. That’s a pretty good amount of pacing I’d say. We’ll see if they can continue to use up so much time. It’s fun though and helps make the series more about the fantasy setting and slice of life aspects. We still get fights of course, but Progressive is more about the character interactions.

We see Kirito start out as the loner he always was with Asuna being a bit of a newbie to the game world. Gradually she grows more experienced and he learns what it is like to be in a team. It makes for a pretty good dynamic between the two of them. We see them train up and gradually improve their abilities. While there isn’t much of an ongoing plot for the most part, the final 3 volumes give us a mini arc of sorts that was completely not in the original story. It’s a quest arc. Basically Kirito and Asuna run into a group of elves who are duking it out. They are given the option of joining either the light or dark factions. Kirito lets Asuna pick and she decides to help the Dark Elves. They help the leader (Kizmel) take down her opponent.

The full quest is a bit on the longer side. They have to help her deliver a key, find the traitor and take down the opposing army. The tricky thing is that some other players have taken the light side and of course if they die in the game they die in real life. This means that the heroes are going to have to tread carefully here. You’ve also got a shady Sword Art Online player who wants to challenge Kirito and possibly eliminate him from the world. It’s nice to see Kirito going all out here and it makes for a pretty nice fight. It’s probably the most intense battle in the series with a lot of back and forth with good swordplay. Kirito rarely finds a challenge for himself so this guy did pretty good in managing to match him.

As for Kizmel, she’s a pretty solid character. It’s a shame that the series uses her for fanservice almost constantly. The series throws in multiple bath scenes which is pretty forced. She’s portrayed as a big sister figure to Kirito and Asuna. She is pretty advanced for an A.I. as well since she can understand human phrases and adapts rather well. It further shows just how advanced Sword Art Online was as a game in this universe. The A.I. systems were already pretty adaptive and this is only arc 1. Her skills were also far above Kirito and Asuna’s at the time. It makes sense since they are still in the opening floors I suppose. At this point nobody really had a whole lot of levels yet and this is the kind of quest where you are mainly playing as support.

It’s also interesting to see a time where Heathcliff had not yet formed his own group. At this point there are only two main attacking squads and neither of them are particularly helpful. They have numbers but not a whole lot of power. This was one of the more interesting points in the game because it’s fun to see Kirito and Asuna teaming up and clearing a bunch of quests on their own. It shows that they really don’t need the army and are prepared to handle everything on their own. If you were ever trapped in a game it does make sense to train a lot solo or in a small party rather than joining an army. It would be a lot harder to level up with so many people around.

Really the series is at its best when it’s letting the characters just enjoy the SAO environment. Learning new skills and having fun in the world is what the arc is all about. While Kirito and Asuna are both great characters, the supporting cast is a bit weaker so you don’t really want the focus to be on them. I could never really get behind the rest of the characters but fortunately each arc would add at least one good character so the series as a whole has a solid cast. It’s part of why Kizmel was a good addition here since she’s easily one of the better characters. I was also glad that she could fight at such a high level. Arc 1 will definitely always be nostalgic.

I was also glad that Asuna got a pretty powerful rapier here. It helped close the gap with Kirito and for a while near the end she was the power hitter. It’s what makes them such a dangerous combo. Asuna can land hits with lightning speed and then Kirito finishes the job with a crispy combo. As they said, it’s almost unfair for the rest of the players who are still struggling with the basics. Still, they’ll learn the ropes eventually. You just can’t hope to match up against the main characters. I wouldn’t mind if the series took some queues from the games and started adding in future characters. The series would have to completely be known as an AU after that, but I think it would be worth it.

The art is pretty solid and definitely one of the best for SAO. It has a pretty simple design set up like an online manga or Bleach. This allows the character designs to be pretty smooth and we also get a lot of great fight scenes. It’s all very clear and lets you read through the adventures with ease. You can clear all of the volumes in no time at all. At 7 volumes the series is a reasonable length although I always think you should aim to be at least 10 volumes long. That’s when you know that you’ve made it to the big leagues.

Overall, Sword Art Online Progressive is a series that is a lot of fun but does get bogged down by the fanservice. To an extent you can certainly block it out, but the series goes pretty overboard with how often it occurs. After a point it can’t help but lower the score of the adventure. It’s a shame that SAO tends to fall into this trap because the series is so awesome otherwise. Where else are you going to get a main character quite like Kirito? It’s really tough to match a guy like that. From what I’ve heard you are better off reading the novels for this part of the franchise. The original adaption of the first arc is also better as it plays the concept pretty straight even if the art isn’t that good. I’m ready for the sequel though and hopefully that one will fix some of these issues. After all there are still plenty of floors left to conquer and I want to see them all!

Overall 5/10